Looking back at the Bucs’ preseason win over Titans

by Gary Shelton on August 20, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston had one of his better quarters./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston had one of his better quarters./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Observations

1. Yes, Jameis Winston has been as sharp as he's been in two weeks before. It hasn't happened often, because Winston has run up ratings of 99.4 and a career-high 151.8 in the last two weeks for a combined rating of 116.1 . But he's had consecutive ratings of more than 100 in two straight games in each of his first three seasons. He had a 126.6 last year against Atlanta and Carolina. As. a rookie, he had a 125.9 against Jacksonville and Washington. In his second season, he had a 108.8 against Atlanta and Chicago.

2. After two weeks, I'm convinced that the toughest position to trim for the Bucs will be wide receiver. Tampa Bay has four locks to make the roster in Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries. That leaves Justin Watson, Sergio Bailey, Bobo Wilson and Freddie Martino competing for one job, maybe two (plus developtmental squad). If you're looking for an early prediction, I think Watson has the most upside.

3. Isn't life good when the kicker is perfect?

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4. I know the starters haven't played a lot. But coming into camp, I would have said the priorities were 1) build a pass rush; 2) find a running back; 3) find another corner and 4) develop this offensive line. Wins are nice, but I'm not sure the same four priorities aren't there.

5. People who pick the Bucs to win one or two games aren't thinking clearly. As bad as the Bucs were last year, they won five and were in 10 other games. I wouldn't pick this team to contend for the playoffs, but if it survives the first three games, it has a shot at 7 or 8 wins. But what do I know?

Koetter's offense is clicking so far./CARMEN MANDATO

Koetter's offense is clicking so far./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Comments

(From Dirk Koetter's day-after press conference)

(On the Bucs in the red zone): “I don’t know about the preseason comparison but, I mean, our goal is 60 percent and we’re a little bit under that. We definitely had some chances last night to be better than we were. Penalties hurt us on that one drive last night and we missed two really good opportunities to score on the drive when Fitz was still in there – we missed two really good chances. So, you know, a work in progress, we’re moving the ball good and we’re getting down there. We are scoring points, that’s a good thing, but that’s always something you’re continuing to work on.”

(On finding the right combination of players on his offensive line):  “First of all, it was great to get ‘Dot’ (Demar Dotson) back out there. He had 16 plays last night. We had a lot of plays in the first half. Our plan was to play the ones – they played 45 plays. The rest of that group – except Caleb (Benenoch), who  had a cramp --had to come out, so he only played 40 – but 45 plays is a lot. Remember, I also told you that we were going to play it like a game in the first half, so normally you don’t rotate your O-Line. We did rotate our receivers, we did rotate our running backs, we did rotate our tight ends and because of the situation we have at quarterback, we rotated two quarterbacks. We did exactly what we wanted to do, rotation-wise. I can’t speak for anybody else.”

(On the wide receivers): “I think everyone kind of knows those first four guys. Then there’s a group of – you could make it probably as big as five if you wanted to – that’s in that second group. On different days, different guys show more than others. I thought Justin Watson really had a nice game last night, all around, really did well. Freddie (Martino) didn’t get many opportunities last night. Bernard (Reedy) was kind of up and down. Sergio Bailey has showed up and continues to show up at the end of games, playing in the second half. I’m probably leaving somebody out – Bobo (Wilson) is out right now.”

(On if running back Peyton Barber looks like a starter): “Yes, he does. Exactly what he should be doing. You know, he only had five carries last night, but he averaged over five yards per carry. He had an explosive run. You guys have talked to him. Peyton is a very serious guy. He’s got his eye on the prize, right where it should be. He’s doing everything he should be doing right now. I think if we went out there and gave it to Peyton 20 times, we’d like what he does, but you’re probably not going to do that in a preseason game.”

(On his quarterbacks): “Fitz was not as sharp as he was in Miami, but he’s been very consistent throughout training camp. Jameis was lights out last night. That second quarter, Jameis was on fire. His scrambling was on full display. He made two beautiful plays. One of the best plays of the game was the scramble play that he threw to (Chris) Godwin that got called back on the holding call – which was a good call, but that’s still a really nice play by Jameis. He had a scramble with a nice throwaway. He had a scramble (and) hit O.J. [Howard] for an explosive [play]. For the most part, he was right on time. He had a couple of minor snafus, but for one quarter of play, Jameis was lights out.”

Jason Pierre-Paul needs to speak louder./STEVEN MUNCIE

Jason Pierre-Paul needs to speak louder./STEVEN MUNCIE

5 of the Best Lines

"Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert was on the field for six drives Saturday. For the second straight game, it was a mixed bag with more good than bad.

He pieced together an impressive seven-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown to begin the second half, but didn't have many more highlights. Four of the Titans' other Gabbert-led drives ended in punts. The other ended with a fumble recovery by the Bucs. There were plenty of missed throws scattered among those five drives in what has been an underwhelming first two preseason games for Gabbert."

Eric Bacharach

Tennessean

"The Titans allowed 238 passing yards in the first half, most coming with Jameis Winston under center after the Titans' first-team unit was off the field. Tampa's last three drives of the first half went for 50, 91 and 72 yards as they put up two touchdowns and a field goal. "

Bacharach

"Where there was fading DeMarco Murray, there is now Dion Lewis, running a route on Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David with such nastiness that it left David on the ground.

Where there was rookie  Taywan Taylor trying to figure things out downfield, there is second-year Taywan Taylor, playing in an offense that adores the screen. He finished the Tennesean Titans' drive that served as Saturday’s primary highlight — in a 30-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers  that was light on them — and fuel for those who want to be giddy about this team.

Joe Rexrode

The Tennessean

Lewan didn’t play a ton of snaps as the first team offense came off after Taywan Taylor’s touchdown late in the 1st quarter, but while he was in he completely shut down Jason Pierre-Paul. Those two had gone at it all week during practice with JPP dishing out plenty of trash talk, but Pierre-Paul was extremely quiet tonight and that’s because of Lewan."

Mike Herndon

Musiccitymiracles.com

Last week the Titans depth corners got torched so bad that three of them got cut in the days following the game. This week wasn’t much better. The starting secondary did a pretty nice job, limiting Ryan Fitzpatrick to just 5 of 13 passing for 46 yards and no touchdowns. However, the backups struggled again, allowing Jameis Winston — who came in after Fitzpatrick — and Ryan Griffin to combine to go 19 of 29 for 314 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Herndon

David had three tackles for the Bucs./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

David had three tackles for the Bucs./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Game Balls

Offense: You'd probably prefer to believe in someone else, since Jameis Winston is about to go sit in the corner for three weeks. But Winston was by far the best player on the field Saturday night. He was accurate, he threw deep, he put points on the board. No doubt, Ryan Fitzpatrick is more important for the time being, but you can't deny that Winston had one of his better nights.

Defense: Lavonte David will make bigger plays for the Bucs, and he'll make more tackles. But David had three tackles (all solos) and recovered a fumble. It was the typical game for David, who always seems to find a way to shine on the stat sheet.

Special teams: Can there be any doubt? Last week, Chandler Catanzaro left us all thinking about the past failures of Bucs kickers. Not this week. Catanzaro. hit three field goals  (30, 44, 48) and three extra points in a 30-14 victory. If Catanazaro can keep it up, we'll have to find something else to worry about.

Donovan Smith and the line must gel./CARMEN MANDATO

Donovan Smith and the line must gel./CARMEN MANDATO

Grades

Quarterback: Winston gets an A. Of course he does. But starter Ryan Fitzpatrick gets a C, and third-teamer Ryan Griffin probably merits a B -. In a normal year, it's fine if your franchise has a great day and everyone else is average. But this year, Fitzpatrick has to get ready to play in the first week. Grade: B.

Running back: Have you heard this before. Barber averages better than five yards a carry, but rookie running back Ronald Jones has a disappointing night. If I was head coach Dirk Koetter, I'd reverse their roles this week and let Jones run behind the starting offfensive line. Barber can afford to suffer a little less pounding, and Jones needs to announce himself: Grade: C.

Offensive line: The Bucs were okay. Frankly, they're usually okay ... but not much more. The line remains thin, which makes it a hard unit to grade. Eventually, however, the line has to establish itself as one where a team can run four straight plays or throw four straight. Grade: B-.

Defensive line: The imported pass rush still hasn't delivered the way we hoped it would. Again, there hasn't been enough play for a lineman to set up an opponent, or to wear one down. But the Bucs had just two quarterback pressures. Against the upcoming quarterbacks of the first three weeks, they'll have to be better. Grade: D+.

Linebackers: If there is a position you believe in on the defense, it's the linebackers. They aren't run-stuffing pounders, but they are quick and they run well. You'll notice them more in a four-quarter game. Grade: B+.

Defensive backs: Opponents have found success through the air, including a rating of 104.5 against the Titans. Grade: C.

Kicker: Yay for Chris Catanzaro, Mr. Perect. Grade: A.

Watson has made an impression so far./STEVEN MUNCIE

Watson has made an impression so far./STEVEN MUNCIE

5 Bucs Who Make the coaches Go "Hmm."

1. Justin Watson, WR.

2. Sergio Bailey, WR.

3. Jake Cichey, LB.

4. Alex Cappa, OL.

5. Shaun Wilson, RB.

The Bucs finally hit Jackson deep./JEFFREY S. KING

The Bucs finally hit Jackson deep./JEFFREY S. KING

5 Best Plays

1. 1-10-9: One of the few complaints about Winston a week ago was that he didn't go downfield enough. This time, he did. He launched a 54-yarder to DeSean Jackson to get the Bucs moving. It sent a trend  for Tampa Bay.

2. 3-5-8: This could almost be among the five worst plays, but Chris Godwin made a contested catch in the end zone. Winston was in one of his out-of-control plays to evade a rush, then launched an "oh, no" ball into the end zone. Touchdown. Frankly, I'd rather have seen a throwaway and a field goal, but he did make the play.

3. 3-15-21. In years past, this would be a certain field goal try, because the Bucs didn't negotiate the Red Zone very well. This time, Winston found rookie Justin Waston for a 21-yard score just before the ahlf.

4. 2-9-25. Winston found the Bucs' best receiver, Mike Evans, for a 38-yard catch. The Titans had a 15-yard penalty at the end, making it a 53-yard play that set up a field goal.

5. 1-10-21. The Ryan Griffin express contines on its world tour. Griffin hit Sergio Bailey for a 21-yard touchdown.

Godwin was good in the end zone./CARMEN MANDATO

Godwin was good in the end zone./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Worst Plays

1. 2-9-47. The Bucs fell behind 7-3 when Marcus Mariota hit Taywan Taylor on a short pass. Taylor outsprinted the Bucs for the touchdown.

2. 3-8-20. The Bucs had a chance to blow the game out early after Winston hit Chris Godwin for a 20-yard score. The touchdown was nullified, however, because of a holding call against Brad Seaton. The Bucs settled for a field goal.

3. 2-G-3. Blaine Gabbart -- Blaine Gabbert -- threw a three-yard touchdown pass on the Ttans' first drive of the second half.

4. 4-8-24 . On Ryan Fitzpatrick's first third-down situation of the game, he had time in the pocket and Mike Evans was open for the first down. Fitzpatrick overthrew him, however.

5. 3-9-12. A red-zone failure. With a chance to score a touchdown, Fitzpatrick threw behind tight end O.J. Howard Howard was short of the first down, but the Bucs would have had a short-yardage option.

Peyton Barber has the look of a starter./CARMEN MANDATE

Peyton Barber has the look of a starter./CARMEN MANDATE

5 Thoughts

1. Don't get too giddy over the fact the Bucs are unbeaten in their practice games. Remember 1983? The Bucs went 4-0 in the preseason. They went 2-14 in the regular season.

2. It is almost universal. Bad teams take too many penalties. It's hard to overcome third-and-20, and it's to give back 100 yards worth of gains. So know this: If the Bucs have a lot of penalties, they'll lose.

3. Aside from Peyton Barber, do the Bucs have another running back? Oh, you think Ronald Jones II will be okay, but who else do want to give the ball on second-and-four?

4. The Titans were fourth in the league against the run last season, so don't grade the Bucs too strictly. Still, a little more daylight would be nice.

5. In two games, three opposing quarterbacks have had a rating over 100.0. With Drew Brees, Carson Wentz and Ben Roethlisberger ahead, that's a concern. To repeat: The Bucs need a better pass rush and tighter coverage.

Looking Ahead

5 Best Lions

1. Barry Sanders

2. Calvin Johnson

3. Billy Sims

4. Bobby Layne

5. Joe Schmidt

5 Favorite Lions

1. Barry Sanders

2. Alex Karras

3. Lomas Brown

4. Charlie Sanders

5.  Chris Spielman

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Martin August 20, 2018 at 4:56 pm

I was at Nashville last week for the practices. Off topic of your article, but it appears that Nashville would be an outstanding city for MLB team like the Rays…..wonder if Stu is considering that.

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Gary Shelton August 20, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Maybe. He told me once there were five cities that would be better than they one they were in. I wondered about Hartford, Charlotte, Long Island, Montreal and Portland. Maybe Nashville.

You ok?

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